Tag Archives: cult movies

In a Surprise Twist, Hyatt’s Classic Video Remains Open

Bob and Beverlee Hyatt at the East Rochester “Classic Video” location now closed. (Photo by David Andreatta, courtesy Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)

by Legendary Lew

Some movies have an unexpected twist at the end or a hero appears at the climax to set things on the right path.

Hyatt’s Classic Video, which originally was set to permanently close its doors last week, now has an extended life in a new location.  It’s not exactly the knight in shining armor that came charging through, but more like the people of Bedford Falls giving back to George Bailey what he’s provided for them over many years.

Bob Hyatt, the owner, just got off the phone with me, letting me know that the new location is in Pittsford at the “Old Pickle Factory” building with the same business phone number.

Apparently, they are still selling some stock, but will concentrate the business as transfers of VHS to DVD for your family memory videos (please don’t approach them with copyrighted stuff. It’s illegal and the answer is ‘no’). They will have a limited supply of rentals, I’m told, but will probably be more interested in selling you films.

Some of their VHS will eventually be part of ROC Archive, a non-profit with the goal of preserving a regional audio and video archive for the public.

Good to see Bob and Beverlee Hyatt still at it and providing a much needed service to Rochester. Best of luck in their new location!

Advertisements

Legendary Rochester Video Store, and Major Influence on TUGM, Shutting Down After 41 Years

Hyatt’s Classic Video (3rd location) (Courtesy: Rochester City Newspaper)

by Legendary Lew

In 1976 when Kodak was booming, and Rochester NY was, as a local newspaper crowed, “The Oz of the East,” Bob Hyatt expanded his 10 year-old stereo business into the brand new market of home video. He began acquiring Beta tapes of popular feature films and renting them to folks in the community and surrounding area. Soon, Hyatt’s Classic Video became a mecca for those who searched for a wide variety of titles from all over the world. Known for his tendency to “pack rat” videos and formats, he kept Betas, VHS, VideoDiscs, DVDs and even 8mm video features (used in the 1980s primarily on airlines) for as long as he could possibly keep them.

Hyatt’s Classic Video, located in East Rochester, New York, was more than a video store for me. I worked there for a few years in the late 1990s, but was a steady customer for a long time before that.

While I worked at Hyatt’s, I took the opportunity to check out and view the most mind-blowing collection of odd movies and TV shows I could have ever seen before the advent of the internet. Only the tragically short-lived Buffalo video store, Mondo Video, could come close to the strangeness of his collection.

But Bob didn’t really set out to gather the weirdest movies ever. He wanted the largest, so as to appeal to as much of the community as possible. From family features to art house obscurities, Bob had them all. He also, out of necessity for any indie video store to remain alive, had porn ranging all the way back to the 1970s. In fact, his insistence on stocking adult films from the very dawn of video ensured a devoted audience who shied away from the “plastic figures” of later DTV smut.

During the time I worked there, Hyatt’s had monthly rental specials for titles beginning with randomly selected letters of the alphabet. Looking through the lists, I began to wonder what certain mysterious titles were. This was before I had internet access, so looking up titles on IMDB was yet to be a convenience.

I searched through the VHS titles and decided to watch all the titles I did not recognize, especially those that were distributed by second line distributors. No MGMs nor Paramounts for me. I was watching titles from Sinister Cinema, Paragon, Gorgon and Vestron Video.

And boy, did that change my movie viewing life! Titles like Sweet Sugar, The Jar, The Cars That Ate Paris, W (from the Philippines), One-Armed Executioner, Circle of Power, The Killing of Satan, Beyond the Doors, The Loved One and many more astounded me. With the blessing of Bob, I created a photocopied newsletter of sorts, reviewing those and other selected strange titles. Once unknown neglected cult movies, sitting on the shelves literally collecting dust, began moving, and encouraged some lively chat with astounded customers.

This reaction fed a passion and obsession for unusual and strange cult movies that lives to this day. I carried it forward to Chicago, my new home, where brick and mortar video stores like Facets and Odd Obsession became my new searching grounds. With the explosion of digital sources, some of the finds became easier and with better visual quality. The marketability of cult movies, thanks to the success of directors like Quentin Tarantino, increased the likelihood of finding strange movies finally released on DVD.

Even so, some titles in Hyatt’s collection still haven’t seen a digital release. Finding them is the glory of browsing brick and mortar video stores.

Which makes the impending closure of Hyatt’s Classic Video a shame. However, I don’t take this as something that’s necessarily sad.

Hyatt’s Classic Video was an astounding success. It remained in business as a video store for 41 years!  I don’t know of any video store, independent or otherwise, that has lasted as long as Hyatt’s.  If so, it certainly has not been within the area.

It fought off other competing indies as well as Blockbuster Videos–4 of them surrounded Hyatt’s within a 3 mile radius at one point. Blockbuster actually was born and collapsed while Hyatt’s survived. Bob made the decision not to sell to Blockbuster at a crucial time during the 1990s and I’m so glad he saved the store.

Bob’s decision, in no small way, changed my life. It generated the interest and excitement for weird movies that I eventually carried to Night School (some of the movies I presented, I had first seen when I rented them from Hyatt’s) and will definitely be one of the acorn seeds that develops into Vital Media later this year and into 2018. I know for a fact that the store has influenced other media makers and film lovers.

So Hyatt’s Classic Video will soon be no more. But the spirit of indie will carry on with this site, Thrillo Pad Productions and all my future work.

Thanks to The Hyatt Family.

 

Female Trouble The Musical?

by Legendary Lew

I’ve long been a fan of John Waters’ trashy classic Female Trouble with its amazingly crazy dialogue and situations that still hold up today.

That’s why when I first heard the Mel Henke classic swinging lounge album “La Dolce Henke” (described as a Playboy Magazine on record), I knew his wild rendition of “All That Meat” somehow fit with the film.

It’s been a few years brewing in my head, but I finally decided to make my very first musical mix combining the two great pieces. This is my way of convincing John Waters’ and others that Female Trouble should indeed become his second musical.

Hope you enjoy it!

Jake Myer’s “White Cop” Walks the Cult Movie Beat Starting Friday

WhiteCopPosterby Legendary Lew

The new indie Chicago comedy White Cop debuts at The Music Box Theatre this Friday. If nothing else, there is one definite assurance about this movie: it’s the world’s first film funded from the proceeds of a volleyball coaching stipend.

Diverting just under $10K to this endeavor, director Jake Myers presents a timely satire that involves a young, inexperienced and rather daft Officer Kip White (Ben Kobold) and his questionable promotion to take on a European drug cartel.

Influenced by other cult favs like Samurai Cop and Miami Connection, White Cop examines the decades-old Hollywood tradition of making rogue cops heroes (aren’t rogue cops, in reality, a problem?) and the homoeroticism of cop buddy movies (always an interest for me).

Nick Moore (Channel 2020) and Katie Rife (Future Schlock) are co-producers of the film. Katie has graced The Underground Multiplex twice before with an interview and her presentation of the cult movie, Please Don’t Touch Me for Night School at Facets Multimedia.

White Cop plays Friday and Saturday at midnight at The Music Box Theatre in Chicago before playing at Alamo Drafthouse in Austin in May.

Here’s the trailer:

 

RIP James Best, Actor on “The Dukes of Hazzard” and Cult Favorite, “The Killer Shrews”

The late James Best, more than just Roscoe

The late James Best, more than just Roscoe

by Legendary Lew

James Best, the actor most known for playing the hapless Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV show, died at the age of 88.

Despite his playing a southern hick in one of the most pointless TV series ever to exist, Best was actually pretty influential outside the set as a well-respected acting teacher, especially of motion picture acting techniques. He ran a Hollywood school of this type of acting, supposedly the first of its kind, in the 1970s and ran it for 25 years, working with such people as Teri Garr, Burt Reynolds and Quentin Tarantino.

But the most fun watching James Best was as the lead in the ubiquitously found public domain horror film, “The Killer Shrews,” which co-starred legendary Hollywood director Sidney Lumet’s father, the Yiddish theater great Baruch Lumet and also “Gunsmoke” regular/horror film director Ken Curtis.  You know that movie–the one with fur pasted on the tails and snouts of dogs to make them look like gigantic rodents?  Haven’t seen it? Well, here it is. Enjoy:

R.I.P. Cult Character Actor Tom Towles (1950-2015)

headshot_300dpi

by Ty Pi ~ @-[->

Tom Towles was an American actor who was born and raised in Chicago, IL.  He passed away on April 5th, 2015.

He was a former U.S. Marine turned cult figure in the independent film scene with what is arguably his most iconic role as Otis Toole in the controversial John McNaughton classic, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

McNaughton initially auditioned Towles for the role of Henry before asking him to play Otis.  Towles had a background in improvisational comedy, which he used in playing the darkly comic character.  His performance is instantly memorable and has become, in my opinion, a contender for one of the scariest performances captured on film.  In the scene featured below, Otis and Henry are buying a color TV in the rear garage of a pawn shop.  It is in this sequence where we see how casual Otis is in conversation, how quick he is to commit horrible atrocities, and even going as far as to take pleasure with a child-like glee.  (Warning: The scene is disturbing and NSFW.)

Other credits include Miami Vice (2006), the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead, and frequent collaborations with Rob Zombie with titles like House of 1,000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, Halloween, and the faux trailer Werewolf Women of the SS.

Mediatrocities #16: Criterion Requests and Remembering Leonard Nimoy

RIP Leonard Nimoy

RIP Leonard Nimoy

by Legendary Lew

TyPi joins me in the latest installment of “Mediatrocities,” the podcast of unusual media.  In this episode, we make an open request to Criterion DVD, asking them to take on our choices of films deserving top notch releases. The second segment is our tribute to the late great Leonard Nimoy, centering on his media work that was not Star Trek.

Give a listen and as always, this podcast is NSFW.

Included in the podcast is the audio for a Priceline commercial, the video of which is here: